Less than a decade ago, Syrian Ayyam Gallery was the first of its kind to open in the dusty, industrial area of Al Quoz. Unheard of at the time, Ayyam started a trend, with more galleries being attracted by the low rents in the unlovely, warehouse-dominated district. Now, the area has transformed into one of the city’s most trendy and quirky spots with 94 contemporary spaces comprising galleries, shops, studios and cafes.
Galleries Night, November, 2015. The Junction performance Alserkal Avenue Courtesy of Angelo
One of the most unique is El Seed, a studio dedicated to the cross-cultural phenomenon of Arabic ‘calligraffiti’. The gallery is the first space opened by French-Tunisian artist eL Seed, and reflects the rising popularity of street art in the city.
Another noteworthy space is Satellite, managed by Rami Farook, the curator of established gallery, Traffic. Satellite is a large open space where visitors can appreciate both finished works and the process of creating art. Farook also regularly invites other artists passing through Dubai to use the space as a kind of satellite studio and gallery, as well as a place of collaboration between artists.
The area – now named Alserkal Avenue – has become the Middle East’s foremost contemporary arts hub, hosting the region’s biggest annual creative event, Art Dubai. A new addition for 2017 is the OMA-designed event venue, Concrete.
El Marsa Gallery, Galleries Night, November, 2015. Alserkal Avenue, Debbie
Local favourites include total lifestyle cafe, Hapi, which includes a ‘parkour playground’ amid traditional restaurant tables and chairs. If you are dragging company to the area who have no interest in art, you can drop them off at the huge indoor trampoline centre, BOUNCE, or indoor climbing area Adventure HQ, on your way to the galleries.
Address: Street 8, Al Quoz 1, Sheikh Zayed, Dubai
Opening Hours: 10:00-19:00 (Closed on Friday)
Tel: +971 50 556 9797
Text: Mamiko Kawakami